Malaysia Airlines flights running empty
Malaysia Airlines is facing dire economic straits after being involved in the two worst air tragedies of the year.
Based on some recent photos taken by its few remaining passengers, some flights are operating nearly empty.
In March, Flight 370, scheduled to travel from from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared with 12 crew and 227 passengers on board — which remains a mystery.
Then, last month, tragedy struck again when Flight 17 was shot down while in Ukrainian airspace. All 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard were killed.
Blame for the second tragedy cannot be placed squarely on Malaysia Airlines, as many major carriers routinely fly over conflict zones.
But the loss of lives was inextricably linked to the airline by people around the world.
The carrier, which was operating in the red for about five years before either of this year's tragedies, has continued operating despite the major damage to its reputation.
The southeast Asia air carrier burns its cash reserves at nearly $2.16 million each day," wrote Howard University professor Oliver McGee.
"Operations are losing about $1.6 million a day."
According to Australia's news.com.au, the airline has doubled the commission it offers to Australian travel agents, from 6 per cent to 11 per cent, for booking travellers on the carrier.
It is also offering deep discounts compared to other carriers: A sample fare search on Malaysia Airlines showed a round trip flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing for US$238 (NZ$286), while a similar flight on other carriers was listed for more than US$500.
But these efforts have not been enough to prevent nearly empty flights.
Earlier this month, Malaysia's state investment company Khazanah Nasional announced a complete overhaul of the tarnished carrier, announcing it would offer a buyout for the 31 per cent of the airline stock it did not already own.
Details of the overhaul have not been explicit, but a name change, rebranding and labor restructuring are possible. But even if extreme measures are taken, it is difficult to imagine how the airline can overcome the shadow cast by the disastrous MH370 and MH17.
Malaysia Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.